Moscow considers the agreement, achieved in Rome by Russia and Italy on simplifying the procedure of trips, as the first step towards introducing a visa-free regime with the European Union, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said on Thursday.
"We regard this agreement as an important step on the way of ensuring a genuine freedom of contacts between people on the European continent and of achieving in perspective a visa-free regime for the citizens of Russia and the countries of the European Union," said the diplomat.
He noted that the Russo-Italian agreement, which was achieved during the state visit to Italy by Vladimir Putin on November 5, to simplify, on the basis of mutuality, the procedure of trips for some categories of citizens has been fixed in the joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries.
The new procedure provides for the possibility of issuing long-term multiple visas to representatives of legislative and executive bodies, prominent figures in science and culture, and to businessmen. "It is supposed to relieve participants in youth and educational exchanges of paying visa dues, and to envisage the possibility of accelerated issuing visas also for tourists," added the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.